Las Vegas stays alive by tossing their weight and talking smack
After Game 2, the Las Vegas Aces – a team known for announcing themselves – was eerily quiet. Heads were down in the locker room and responses were short from the podium. However, this wasn’t the quiet that results in defeat, no. Down two games the top seed the Aces weren’t quiet out of despair. They were quietly reflecting, individually and over the next few days as a team, what the comeback would look like.
Kelsey Plum and Liz Cambage were brief during the post game press conference last week Thursday. Both players were asked what it would take to turn the series around. Without hesitation, Cambage simply said, “Pride.”
After a short pause, she reiterated that the semifinals are a series for a reason, and that now the Aces have the chance to play in front or their fans who’ve lifted them up all season.
“We ain’t done, it’s just getting started,” the Australian concluded with the slightest flutter of her signature lash extensions.
Hype talk, smack talk, coached media responses are part of all professional sports. But every so often, a player will say something in such a way that it’s hard not to believe them. This was one of those moments.
By the close of Sunday’s 92-75 victory over the Washington Mystics, there was no doubt that this series is indeed just getting started. In a court side interview with ESPN analyst Kim Adams, Cambage addressed the battle on the block by saying, “If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post.”
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In summary, Cambage and the Aces found their pride and then some. In the first 12 seconds, A’ja Wilson drove to the hole and drew a foul on 2019 MVP and Washington Mystics leader Elena Delle Donne. It was the jab after the bell that took their opponent a little off guard, the play that reminded everyone tonight is going to be an all out battle. Wilson and Cambage combined for 49 of the Aces 92 points.
A fleet-footed Plum kept the tempo at a sprint the entire time. Wilson gave a winded interview after the first quarter, Cambage and even Delle Donne could be seen struggling to stay oxygenated throughout the game. Head coach Bill Laimbeer kept a wide open rotation to equally ensure his players were rested and the barrage of speed never stopped.
And then there was the physicality. Simply put, Cambage had her way with LaToya Sanders and especially Emma Meesseman in the post. Extra shoves, tangled arms, and a full out war for positioning. Las Vegas muscled their way to a 46-22 advantage in the paint.
While Wilson is not as consistently – and antagonistically – aggressive as Cambage, she too was asserting her size. Wilson snatched eight rebounds and was a perfect five of five from the line.
So, what did Laimbeer think of Cambage’s comments? Bad Boy Bill is all for it!
“Well we have a series going on. We knew it was a series. I think some people didn’t. We knew in the first two games that we played with the level of intensity needed to compete. We did the same thing tonight. We got a good win,” said Laimbeer in the post game press conference.
Leading into tonight’s Game 4, he also said Cambage is right about size in the paint.
However, Laimbeer quickly shifted to the larger task, “It’s only one. You can’t win three until you win one. You can’t win three until you win two. That is our next task at home … I thought we played a solid basketball game. We can play better.”
Their inside dominance made their 16 turnover a non-factor, but they won’t survive Washington without more disciplined possessions. Without question, both teams have hit the weight room and are ready to throw elbows and spit sassy chirps.
I can’t wait!
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